12 January 2011

Snow Day and thoughts

Today is a snow day, hurray! I'm warm at home with some tea and a little extra time to ramble on a blog.

Over the holidays, due to elaborate circumstances I won't get in to, I ended up driving to work for several days in a row. That was surprisingly an enormous gift I won't soon forget, and something I'd like to urge every cyclist to do from time to time. (Boston Biker did the same, but I can't find his post. Boo.)

There are lots of complaints about how poorly cyclists are treated by drivers of cars. I was driving during a low traffic period (between Christmas and New Year's) and let me tell you, between cars the lack of civility was much worse. I was thrilled to get back on my bike and the relative civility of the bike-car interaction. In a car the hostility, the jockeying for position, the never-ending competition of it all was exhausting.

In addition to showing me how uncivil drivers are to each other, my few days driving was a wonderful reminder of what it's like to share the road with a cyclist. I saw the same spots where I feel pinched each day from the driver's perspective and it helped me understand how the conflicts can arise.

I'm sure I'll complain about rude drivers again, but I hope to remember this surprise Christmas gift and to maintain a more expansive view of sharing the roads in Boston.

5 comments:

JPTwins said...

charlotte,

despite the snow outside, that was a very sun-shiney post!

I totally agree, and driving makes me love my days on the bike so much more. Alas, I drive a minimum of two days a week (more when the weather is this nasty).

enjoy the snow!

geoff

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

I no longer ride the streets. I mountain bike only these days. I feel safer this way. I feel there is a similar comparison of the street to the trail in the sense of car/cyclist and cyclist/hiker. I hike too so when some mountain bikers come along I'll step out of the way. Most always the biker is thankful and even at times apologetic for having me step aside. I don't mind for as I said, I mountain bike these trails too. When I am biking the trails and come along a hiker, I slow down and ring my bell so they know I'm coming. (This works out fine except for when the hiker has an Ipod crammed into his ears. Why can't people be in-tune with nature while hiking?) So as you said, doing both driving and cycling helps you understand how conflicts can arise, the same holds true on the trail.

cycler said...

sigggghhhhhh-we didn't get a snow day. Double whammy of all of the office coming in via public transportation and the boss being out of town and the OM not willing to make the call. the T was almost empty, and I had to trudge through the blizzard on both ends, but I made it.

Hard to concentrate... The Scientist thought I was crazy to come in, although he was going in himself (via T- left the car at the WI last night).

I drive pretty much once a week for work, and once every other week running errands with the Scientist's car, and I was already a pretty cautious driver, but now I'm even more conservative. I don't actually see as much car on car nastyness, but I'm usually driving outside the city. The big thing for me, is that car on bike nastiness is so much more dangerous than bumper cars when everyone has a suit of armor and an airbag.
Have a cup of tea for me!

dr2chase said...

I think it depends very much on the attitude you take to the driving. Without going into gory details, my cousin was killed a few years ago because two drivers were in a hurry, and weren't looking hard enough. There's a corollary of vehicular cycling that drivers forget when they are in a hurry -- if the aim of the cyclist sharing the road is to be visible, one would hope that a driver would never, ever drive his car someplace that he could not see very well what was in front of him or about to intersect his path.

So, is your primary goal to get there quickly, or is it to minimize potential/actual harm to others? I've decided that speed just doesn't matter that much; I have a roof, warm air, music, and a 2000lb suit of armor (and I drive an old ratty car -- new cars are much nicer). Seriously, you go to all that trouble to make your car nice, and then you try to get the driving over with ASAP, WTF is that all about?

People behind me with different goals may get grumpy, but that's their goals, and their problem, and frankly I am pleased if an unhappy experience discourages them from driving, or from choosing the routes that I use (I tend to overlap bike and car routes).

Dottie said...

Interesting. It does make me feel better that drivers' hostility is not reserved exclusively for bicyclists. :)